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All about Pura Aventura and how to plan a holiday with us

All your questions answered

What are the requirements for quarantine-free travel to an amber country?

As of 19th July, double-vaccinated UK citizens are able to return from amber list countries without the need to quarantine on return. The testing/paperwork process can seem a little complicated, so summoning the spirit of Chris Whitty, we've made a few charts to try and simplify things for you. Promise you won't judge our Powerpoint skills though...

1. Leaving the UK, going to Spain

2. Leaving the UK, going to Portugal

3. Returning to the UK from Spain or Portugal

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Which tests do I need for Spain and Portugal?

Travelling to Spain

For Spain, at the time of writing you do not need to present a negative Covid-19 test if you have been fully vaccinated 14 days prior to your arrival or are under the age of 12. This is of course subject to change, so please check the latest entry requirements.

Travelling to Portugal

Portugal currently requires a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival, or a negative lateral flow test taken with 48 hours. In addition, you will also need to show that you have been fully vaccinated 14 days prior to your arrival. Again under 12s are exempt and, again, please check the lastest entry requirements for Portugal.

To visit Portugal, you will therefore need to book a PCR Fit to Fly or a Lateral Flow Fit to Fly. It’s always one bundle of test + certificate.

PCR testing has greater accuracy since results are delivered by a laboratory, the downside is that they take time and cost a bit more. Typically, you will wait 24-48 hours to get results, their validity for the purposes of Fit to Fly certificate is only 72 hours. That means you need to be through your port of entry within 72 hours of the test being taken. You cannot use NHS testing facilities to secure a Fit to Fly certificate.

The Lateral Flow test is identical to the NHS blue & white boxes many or most of us have seen. You cannot use NHS test kits to secure your Fit to Fly certificate. In essence, you self-administer the test and the results are apparent within 30 minutes or less. For the purposes of Fit to Fly certificates, you will either book this type of test at the airport pre-check in, or can have the kit delivered to your home. For home administered kits, you will usually book a video call slot with a clinician who supervises you in order to be sure of the veracity of the result and therefore to be able to issue your Fit to Fly certificate.

Fit to Fly certificates based on Lateral Flow tests have a shorter validity period than their PCR equivalents, 48 hours instead of 72 hours. Given the speed of results, that’s not a problem.

Returning to the UK

You need a Fit to Fly certificate to come back into the UK. Again, these can be either PCR or Lateral Flow, it’s up to you. It is likely that there will be a test centre at or near your port of return but most of us would rather not think about these things while we are on holiday. Our suggestion is the Fit to Fly + Lateral Flow kit. Pack one in your suitcase, book in your video call for the last morning of your holiday, or the afternoon before and you don’t have to think about it. You also need to fill in a Passenger Locator Form within 48 hours of your return journey.

Secondly, you will need to take a PCR test after you return home. You can take this on day zero (the day you get back into the country) or day one, no later than day two. This test can be self-administered with the sample returned to the lab by post, or done in person. The former being the easiest and cheapest.

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How do I prove my vaccination status?

This can be done via the NHS app – not the track and trace but the full NHS app. Once you are registered, you can see the certificate, email it to yourself, pull up a QR code or even request a hard copy of your vaccination status from your GP.

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Where can I source reliable Covid testing for my trip?

There are lots of testing laboratories out there, and presumably a bunch of scammers so be a little careful. As soon as the announcement was made on Thursday, the cost of these tests was dropped by various providers to the tune of 30%, so that’s good. Airlines, trains & boat operators may offer discount codes for testing so check and ask around. You can even simply Google ‘discount code covid test’ and you often find 20% is knocked off.

Here are some organisations we have used personally:

Express Test - 25 sites across the UK, all testing done in person. Locations reasonably well spread. £59 PCR Fit to Fly, £35 Lateral Flow Fit to Fly, £69 Day 2 test.

Qured - remotely monitored testing. PCR Fit to Fly £80. Lateral Flow Fit to Fly £39 but use code BATRAVEL15 and it’s £33. This is the Lateral Flow kit you can take with you on holiday and use for your return journey. Day 2 test, £75, mail in.

Halo - another remote PCR testing service but with no poking, this one is a spit-test. Courier service to and from your door so it’s pretty low intrusion all round. They have a PCR Fit to Fly & day 2 PCR bundle for £159.

Testing for All - a mail-in PCR test. Seems to only be for the day 2 return test but at £55 it’s the best value that we’ve seen.

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Why should I book now and will my money be safe?

There are advantages to booking now. We are seeing very good prices for international flights and these usually come with very flexible conditions for date changes and refunds. Our favourite small lodges and hotels that are often booked up way in advance, now have availability.

We take a 15% deposit to secure your holiday. Your money is 100% protected through our ATOL licence if your trip includes a flight booked through us, or through our ABTOT bond if it does not. Either way, this protection provides a cast iron financial guarantee and helps you book with complete peace of mind. Because the contract between us exists here in the UK, you get this protection regardless of where you live.

As an additional benefit, the balance payment for your holiday is due four weeks before you depart, rather than the standard eight weeks. This gives you more time to assess the situation and more flexibility to change plans if you need to.

So if you want something to look forward to later in 2021 or 2022, it is a good time to confirm those plans now. Once booked, we are offer flexible terms and options should you need to change your plans.

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What happens if there is another lockdown, FCDO advice changes or I have to quarantine?

In the event of another lockdown we will apply the same flexibility as previous lockdowns; a full refund or defer to new dates. All date changes are free of charge and we will hold the original price where possible - which is the vast majority of cases. Where travel falls within the dates of the lockdown, we will offer this immediately e.g. lockdown is announced for, say, September to December we refund or defer all travellers within that window at or around the time of the announcement.

If FCDO advises against travel to any of our destinations we will offer a full refund, an alternative destination or defer to new dates. We define imminent travel as a month prior to departure so any refunds are paid out 3-4 weeks prior to your planned departure date.

We view quarantines as a travel restriction on a par with lockdown or FCDO advice, and we will offer the same flexibility; a full refund or defer to new dates.

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What happens if I contract Covid-19 prior to travel?

We expect this would usually occur within the final 4 weeks prior to departure and such an event is now covered as standard by most insurance policies. In other cases - such as no insurance in place, we will offer deferral. Certain types of trip, specifically Antarctic or Galápagos cruises, may be less flexible in which case clients will be made aware at time of booking.

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What happens if borders are open but I don't want to travel?

If we can safely deliver your holiday and there are no restrictions in place preventing you from travelling, this will be treated as a cancellation and our usual terms and conditions apply. However, please do call us to discuss your situation as we always try to be flexible and we will see what options we can offer. In most cases we should be able to defer to new dates, but certain types of trip, specifically Antarctic or Galápagos cruises, may be less flexible in which case clients will be made aware at time of booking.

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